Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina arenas for enrichment and injustice

14.3.2016 - Banja Luka

On March 14, the International Day of Action for Rivers, the Center for Environment calls upon the authorities to stop the uncontrolled and insane plans to build hydropower plants on the rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

NatašaCrnković, Center for Environment: “Over 10 years we point to the negative effects of hydropower plants. We did a large number of analyzes which undoubtedly show that hydropower plants, small and large, create enormous pressure on freshwater ecosystems and local populations. In addition, the economic analysis indicates that they are cost-effective only to investors and to the detriment of all of us that are paying subsidies for hydro power with monthly bills. Local communities oppose them, suffer severe damage from the already constructed HPP’s, and face problems with water supply such ascollapse of buildings during the digging of derivation tunnels which has been the case with hydropower plant “Medna” on Sana River."

Despite the resistance of local communities, the scientific data on the high level of endemism, the exceptional value of canyon ecosystems, the international obligations, and the current and potential opportunities of these canyons for the purposes of tourism, the rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina are seen only as hydro potential and space for private enrichment.

“The energy of people who oppose the hydropower and fight for our rivers is amazing. Last week, we were in Fojnica where the citizens had blocked the work on the construction of hydro power plant 'Luke' on Željeznica River for 11 months. They managed to stop the construction in legal way despite enormous pressure and are not discouraged in their intention to preserve Željeznica. On Saturday we were in Buna at a public hearing, where the citizens of Buna, Blagaj, Mostar and their surrounding places had a unanimous stand against the planned hydropower plants 'Buna 1' and 'Buna 2.' Team of individuals and organizations will give full support and try to raise a question of river protection to a higher level," says Nataša Crnković.

Hrcavka

Plans to build hydropower plants in Vrbas canyon, in the National Park Sutjeska, and on Una River are stopped at the moment which presents a  positive example of the people’s fight for the river. Unfortunately, this does not mean that these plans are completely withdrawn. Authorities are under severe scrutiny while they deciding upon whether to take the side of the public interest or that of private investors. 

The Center for Environment dedicated this day to the rivers and all those who gave their lives defending the rivers around the world, especially Berta Cáceres who was an activist for human rights and the environment from Honduras, winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize for the fearless defense of the river Gualcarque, nature, and people of Agua Zarca dam who were killed on March 3, 2016 in La Esperanza.

Berta-Caceres

Berta Caceres stands at the Gualcarque River in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras where she, COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), and the people of Rio Blanco have maintained a two year struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project that poses grave threats to local environment, river, and indigenous Lenca people from the region.

Berta Cáceres (1972-2016): “To commit life to protect rivers means to devote to the welfare of humanity and our planet. We need to build a society that is able to coexist in a fair and dignified manner, in a manner that protects life. 

International activities